Skip to main content

SOS- Memorial Day 2016

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord...
Today is Memorial Day, the annual national observance for those service men and women who lost their lives in war (as opposed to Veteran's Day in November, which recognizes all who served). You'll hear the words of The Battle Hymn of the Republic played all over the US today. This day is often observed with parades, patriotic concerts, and remembrance ceremonies at military memorials and cemetaries.
It is vital and important to remember the lives lost at war in Vietnam, Korea, WW I & II, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. But today I am thinking about those veterans whose lives were lost in their own home country by suicide. It is estimated that 22 veterans take their own lives every day, and one on active duty kills him/herself every day. Suicide rates among veterans are 50% higher than those of the general population. The VA has published its own statitistics and strategies for addressing this epidemic.

What do we do about this crisis? Several of my Facebook friends have been participating in the #22pushups challenge to raise awareness of suicide and PTSD among veterans. Share the word about this crisis hotline: 800-273-8255. Encourage veterans to change the sterotypical mindset that requesting help is a sign of weakness. I'll participate in my own way by wearing my flagpin today as many others will; but I will wear mine upside down, like this:

The upside down flag is a universal call for distress, not protest. I'll wear it not only for the men and women who have committed suicide, but also for their grieving families. I would encourage others to wear their flagpins upside down today as well. It may well inspire conversations where we could share our concerns for veterans facing their own personal crises. It's also a call for the health services we offer to veterans, physical and mental, to be more effective and easily accessible. The call to serve one's country must be met by the rest of us with a commitment to care for each one who serves so that they may live their lives with the dignity and respect they deserve. I offer the following prayer litany today, which does not formally mention suicide, but there is certainly room for it in the prayer of remembrance for the lives lost in war.
A Litany from The Book of Worship for United States Forces (1974)
(One-time permission to print and use this litany in congregational worship has been granted by The Armed Forces Chaplains' Board, Washington, D.C.)
Leader: Let us give thanks to God for the land of our birth with all its chartered liberties. For all the wonder of our country's story:
Leader: For leaders in nation and state, and for those who in days past and in these present times have labored for the commonwealth:
Leader: For those who in all times and places have been true and brave, and in the worlds common ways have lived upright lives and ministered to their fellows:
Leader: For those who served their country in its hour of need, and especially for those who gave even their lives in that service:
Leader: O almighty God and most merciful Father, as we remember these your servants, remembering with gratitude their courage and strength, we hold before you those who mourn them. Look upon your bereaved servants with your mercy. As this day brings them memories of those they have lost awhile, may it also bring your consolation and the assurance that their loved ones are alive now and forever in your living presence.


Popular posts from this blog

Reflecting Upon Newtown

Note: I offered these words during the prayer section of worship Sunday, December 16.

Last Friday was a day full of surprising ministry. After I wrote my usual Friday email devotion to the church, I received a call from Byron Proutt, our missions coordinator. He and others had recently partnered with Park Cities Presbyterian on a project, and their missions director called Byron to say another ministry was unable to pick up several boxes of food for their pantry—could we use it? Of course we could! So Pastor Gregg, Mr Johnny, and I rolled out to the warehouse and hauled back 80 boxes of food. Praise God! After we unloaded it Gregg and I went to Kroger to give them a letter of appreciation for making our Thanksgiving baskets for hungry families a priority. After I dropped Gregg off at home, I turned on my radio for the first time that day and heard the reports of the shootings in Newtown, Conn. I could not believe what I heard, especially as a father of young children.

I came back to m…

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…